Frequently Asked Questions
What is the workshop method?
Most of the classes at the Writing Institute run as workshops. In these workshops, you will have an opportunity to present your work and have it critiqued. You will also be expected to offer constructive critiques of your fellow students’ work. Each instructor helps to guide these discussions. The goal is for students to make their writing as effective as possible.
What is the Gurfein Fellowship?
The Gurfein Writing Fellowship provides two recipients with a year of one-on-one mentoring with outstanding members of the Sarah Lawrence faculty. This year our mentors are Suzanne Gardinier and Mary LaChapelle. Suzanne Gardinier is the author of The New World, winner of Associated Writing Programs Award Series in poetry; A World That Will Hold All the People, essays on poetry and politics; and Today: 101 Ghazals. She has published fiction in The Kenyon Review, The American Voice, and The Paris Review; and is the recipient of the Kenyon Review Award for Literary Excellence in the Essay and of grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Lannan Foundation. Mary LaChapelle is the author of House of Heroes and Other Stories and stories published in Nimrod, Northern Lit Review, Redbook, and First. She is anthologized in the U.S., Japan, and England; and the recipient of awards from PEN/Nelson Algren, Whiting, Katherine Anne Porter, and of a Bush Foundation fellowship. Professors Gardinier and LaChapelle provide a unique opportunity to our recipients, working for two semesters both as personal tutors and editors on a writing project of the Fellows' choice to further develop and hone their talent and writing.
I am not a professional writer. Are there classes for me?
Yes. Our classes are for students at all levels of writing experience. Our faculty can help you develop and improve your creative writing skills whether you are a beginner or a seasoned writer.
How large are the classes?
Classes are limited to twelve students who, with their teacher, sit at a round table for a comfortable atmosphere of give and take.
When are classes held?
Everyone should be able to find a class that suits her/his schedule. We offer classes both in the daytime and in the evening, Monday through Saturday.
I’ve been writing for a while. Will Writing Institute workshops be stimulating enough for me?
Yes. Most classes operate on the workshop model. No matter what level of experience you bring to a class, you will always have the opportunity to have your work carefully critiqued. These critiques are useful in terms of revising and completing pieces of work. The Writing Institute also offers a variety of classes for students to choose from. You may want to try an advanced class or try a class in a genre you haven’t written in before.
Do students of the Writing Institute ever publish their work?
Yes, students publish their work in journals, magazines, and in online publications. However, at the Writing Institute our instructors work hard to maintain a nurturing and noncompetitive atmosphere so that writers feel safe to experiment. Publishing is a personal choice at the Writing Institute.
What if my writing isn’t good enough?
Welcome to the writer’s life. Is my writing good enough is a question you will ask yourself many times during your life as a writer. At the Writing Institute, our answer is ‘Yes, your writing is good enough. And yes, if you sign up for a class, it will improve.’